P. Ivan Young Featured In American Life in Poetry

U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser recently featured P. Ivan Young’s poem “Fishing for Bream” in American Life in Poetry, Column 681. What a wonderful honor!

“Fishing for Bream” is part of P. Ivan Young’s collection, Smell of Salt, Ghost of Rain, released by BrickHouse Books in 2015. “Visiting the Neighborhood,” also part of Smell of Salt, Ghost of Rain, was featured in Column 640 in 2017.

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December’s Excerpts – Donald Richardson’s ReUNIONS

Cover of ReUNIONS by Donald Richardson. Cover is mostly blank, with the sketch of a man with his back slightly turned toward us. His posture is relaxed; his hands are in his pockets, his sleeves rolled up, and he appears to be reflecting on his life. A signature of the artist, Bob Callahan, is prominently figured beside the man. TEXT reads: ReUNIONS: New and Selected Poems by Donald Richardson.

This month, we’re bringing you a holiday edition of our featured monthly excerpts with selections from Donald Richardson’s ReUNIONS! Enjoy these three poems, selected by the poet himself!


Christmas, 1968

After hours of drunken sledding late
that snow-covered Christmas night
then back again in the warm house
after shedding our coats
we looked around to find one blond head
missing. We went back out to look and
my sister’s big husband found him pissed and
passed out in a snow drift just above the barns
between some huge boxwoods deep in snow
on his way up the serpentine walk to the big house
(he surely would have died right there)
and saved him to spend the better part
of the next forty years or so
still missing, drunk or passed out
to die at 55 on the coast of Maine
somewhere. . .
but there was never
any better place, softer, quieter
than that deep pure white snow late
Christmas night of 1968.


I knownamalot

I knownamalot to whitely quietly dream
of us sledding the huge hill behind Tacaro
on a quite drunk Christmas Eve
now almost 50 years ago.
I couldn’t see the snow;
it kept melting in my eyes,
in my hands, my frozen tears
in my head. It has never melted from
back there in 1968 December 24
and the last Christmas
we would see all of us together
in it blindly racing down the big hill,
the biggest we all might see
through the snow gone to
yesterday or Yesterday’s (a friend’s bar)
to somewhere we would know
only when we got there,
and other hills, other snows, other bars
would find us incomplete
alive and dead all the years since
that particular miracle just melted
before our eyes ever understood
the miracle we were inside of
that was almost all ours
and always would be.


There Are Two Sides

Every river
like every argument
has two sides and
what you need
to understand is
what lies between,
how deep it is,
how strong the current is
how far can you swim.


ReUNIONS can be ordered directly from BrickHouse Books. Follow our blog, or join us on Twitter and Facebook for more updates and future monthly excerpts!

Featured Excerpt: Poems from Adrian Koesters’ Three Days with the Long Moon

Cover image of THREE DAYS WITH THE LONG MOON, a collection of poems by Adrian Koesters. A full moon shines over silhouetted treetops.This month, we’re taking a peak inside Adrian Koesters’ latest, phenomenal release, Three Days with the Long Moon, a collection that author Kathleen Flenniken called “as intimate as love letters.” We agree, and we think you will too.


Penitentiary

Remembering backwards, the dizzy recourse
of the year ahead, the one in which you said—you will say—
Remember. The mercy that was last year.

The story of her ankles, the phonograph
playing, the icy stops, fingers wringing,
ankles a cross message, an uncontrolled story.

Advertising the self, the self in one’s hands,
the year an iceberg on which a bell is set backwards,
the self a story of a clapper stopped

against the interior of a yoke. No mercy
at your hands, no rings, no touch uncontrolled.
Working at the backwards grasp, no moment

to finish. Between mercy and mercy
and control, between grasping and control,
between Tell me a story and Touch my hands.

The backward of mercy, the back word of mercy
likely is, will be, if you demand it, Remember.
Remember. The phonograph plays it, counter-clock.


Desire

A flaccid arm under the palm of desire
makes a game of hiding in itself
and becomes the bitter wealth of desire

Marriages renew on working promises
held up to cardboard and concrete,
they shine still in the wedding-glass of desire

She kisses an unspent cheek, he touches
her one good breast with his mind
after their long walk in the ruins of desire

The sweetness of all that didn’t happen
on their wedding night melts
when at last they try to snatch at desire

You’re on the threshold of the flash
that inflames old wives, but they won’t
trade in their little secrets of desire

A funnel of smoke, a nib of cocoa
on her lip, spent spirits inside his breath
concoct a likely story of desire

You remember the stones, the shell inside
your pocket, Adrian, the storm that threw
sands against the cottage window of desire


14 Lines on the Nature of Formality

When your friend addressed you as Dear
Heart last morning and Madame
Architect today. As when there are
no egg cups, and you must crack
the soft-boiled eggs into the plate. As when
your brother hands you his razor to shave
your legs, and the key to the wind-up
clock goes missing for lack of winding

and a couple of moves, and as when
in fact the bread has been tossed from the
cupboard but so the chocolate remains.
As when the nylons never leave the drawer.
As when your shoes are all flat ones,
dear heart, your shoes are all flat ones.


Here to Behave

for Peggy

The wolf’s a predator like any
other, so the storyteller says.
Dreaming we don wolf’s
clothes, make ourselves incomp-
rehensible and singular, then
waken, the same sheep.
Dawn brings armistice, recon-
ciliation till the next game
of dusk. Dawn sugar on fingers,
salt behind teeth. Sliced sun in
December fog, browned leaf
on the green bud. Juice of
grapefruit. Stone walk, birds
peck for what they peck. Fires
smoke themselves in the stacks,
walking sticks name us, good,
propels up the worst of the hills.

Yet the night, before the longest moon
rising, utter black. Our greatest friend.


Learn more about Adrian Koesters at adriankoesters.com. Three Days with the Long Moon, and Koesters’ first release with BrickHouse Books, Many Parishes, are available now at online retailers.

October Excerpts: What the Waking See by J. Tarwood

Cover Image: Two people in marriage attire walk down a street crowded with houses. They walk away from us. TEXT: WHAT THE WAKING SEE, New and Selected Poems by J. Tarwood

Greetings, BHB friends and family! Time for another monthly edition of our featured excerpts! This month, we’re reading poetry from J. Tarwood‘s latest BHB release, What the Waking See.


AUTHENTICITY

When he says he understands
how we feel, he means,
shut up and grieve, girl, for me!

So many props we need to be
ourselves, brown hair rivering
an eye. cheeks a brisk shine,
heels rocketing, rings blessing—
all the little sisters inhaling labor
to make one lovely enough
to step out the door.

Whatever he says, he wants
a mask, as do we. Stay
grateful with coffee in hand,
morning reddening shade, alone
as granite in a dune.
He’ll be outlasted beautifully,

understanding nothing.

AESTHETICS IN SKOPJE

I
Reason flowers
beautifying necessity,
most enchanting of knots.

II
The ugly love the beautiful.
Of course. Wisely,
the beautiful learn
to love the ugly.
Who else would die for them?

III
Light’s late in winter.
Hand in hand, so many
furred lovelies, laughing
in morning mist, every kiss
tightening the knot.


What the Waking See is available now at online retailers

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September Excerpts: The Light of the Sun Become Sea by Peter Weltner

Welcome back to another edition of BrickHouse Books’ Featured Excerpts!  Last month, we delved into John C. McLucas’ debut novel, Dialogues on the Beach!  This month, we’re heading into the world of poetry with Peter Weltner!

The Light of the Sun Become Sea is Weltner’s latest release with BrickHouse Books. Accomplished poet Joseph Stroud wrote of this collection:

. . .These poems. . .meld the past and the present, the personal and the historical, Classicism and Romanticism, myth and the quotidian, Eros and Thanatos. These poems look directly at the world. They don’t flinch in the face of loss and death. They strive for a transcendence where “All’s right. All’s water. All’s paradise shimmering.”

Join us as we explore the beautiful language of this collection, with three excerpts hand-selected by Weltner himself!


from “Santiago”

5.

All passion’s a chant before sunrise, what is
real, unstoppable, that sanctifies the world,
makes it holier, a man abandoned, his
hopes denied him, mine by women that hurled

you from me. I followed your route. I watched
you walking not to get away, but to be
less ruined, to return some day, touched
by my hands, my lips, your wanting to see

more clearly the rooms we might dwell in, poorer
but more free, seeking to renew what’s below
you, what you’d seen in water flowing under
the bridge, enough rubble there to restore Santiago.


from “The Way Open to Other Ways”

3.

So far north, June shocks as in a Russian
novel. First winter thaws in shadows. Raw
mud turns grass’s emerald. Then the land
flares into the Chinese colors I saw

as the sun shone through crane-white clouds
on an ancient silkscreen, a monk, plain,
hog-fat, sucking plums, making no sounds,
quieter than lotus on the mountain. Plums stain

his robe wine-red. A boat waits by his hut.
In farewell, he embraces the farmer who hoes
his beds, its flowers topaz, agate.
If beauty’s found in decay, winter snows,

in labor, the raked-over loam, the ice-
laden gates, then summer’s paradisal. By stone
walls and cliffs, his skiff flows. Rice
fills his bowl. Peace comes to everyone.


from “Testament”

3.

The great good place of the world
is tremulous with light:
a forest of vines and brush,
its pathless ways through loblolly stands,
the flocks of birds encircling a lake,
the geese diving,
each blessing the water,
as ivy, trees sanctify the words
you use, offering you
their meaning, their eloquence.

A sun shines through you
as through a thick fog
that settles over the morning hours
of the city you grew up in, street sounds, songs,
what no one’s ever done with,
the stories they know of glory,
a cooling rain in June,
wet sidewalks, brownstones,
you, a dialogue between dawn and mist,
the light of the sun become sea.


To learn more about Peter Weltner and his works, visit Peter’s BHB Profile Page.

The Light of the Sun Become Sea is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Itasca Books.

Featured Prose – August – Excerpt from John C. McLucas’ Dialogues on the Beach

Greetings, BHB friends and family!

Today begins a new trend here at BrickHouse Books.  Every month, we’ll be bringing you excerpts of work from the BHB family, and what better way to kick it off than by celebrating our upcoming release, John C. McLucas’ debut novel, Dialogues on the Beach?

Dialogues on the Beach follows Jim, who’s been in love with his best friend, Tony, for years.  When Tony marries Rachel, Jim finds in her another best friend, but he can’t shake his unrequited feelings for Tony.  That is, until he meets Joe while vacationing at Rehoboth Beach.

This month’s excerpt begins at the start of Jim’s tale, way back in the ’70s.


Chapter 1 – 1970-1993 – College, Yale Graduate School, & home in Baltimore

Tony’s wife Rachel and I had become good friends over time, in spite of the obvious: I was in love with Tony, my best friend at college, for years. Initially this was supposed to be a profound secret. Of course Walter caught on, virtually from the moment he and I became roommates in the middle of freshman year. Walter’s gay radar was unmatched. No one else would have thought to call it love, though everyone knew that Tony and I were some sort of pair. Friends even joked about our being married. We were always together. If Tony or I was away for a weekend, the other got condolence calls, thoughtful invitations, kind distractions, from all over campus. Professors would give us each other’s papers if one of us wasn’t there when assignments were returned. I knew Tony’s moods, his early-morning look and the look in class that said he knew the answer and the one that said he didn’t. He knew me well, certainly. He was the all-time master of the butch straight-man bead-read: “I have my pride,” I said once, and he said, “And several other people’s too.”

There was a girlfriend. I knew that, but at first I didn’t worry about it much. Eventually, without rancor, that bond would succumb to distance and time. One day, our daily closeness, the shared books and midnight confidences, would become irreversible, and everyone would suddenly know that I came first with Tony.

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Book Review for BhB Director’s The White Rail

whiterailBlog Chamber Four has recently reviewed BrickHouse Books’ Director Clarinda Harriss’ book The White Rail in their recent literary reviews. Filled with details, analysis, and a strong summary, reviewer Charles Rammelkamp assess The White Rail with great enthusiasm and understanding of the novel.

Below is an excerpt from Rammelkamp’s review:

Reading Clarinda Harriss’s fiction is like reading another version of Laura Lippman’s and Anne Tyler’s Baltimores mixed up together, from the genteel dilapidation of old Baltimore to the dangerous underbelly of the city’s streets. The White Rail is a slender volume, precious as a poetry collection, consisting of six stories, all set in Baltimore or nearby…

To read the full review go here and make sure to check out Chamber Four and their other literary reviews!